Sighisoara Medieval Festival 2017
There is no better way to learn about the medieval history of a place than to attend a Medieval Festival. If the event is combined with a really old town with many of its buildings dating back to the 15th century, then you got the best recipe.
Sighisoara (Romania) is such a place and its historical center is included in UNESCO World Heritage. The first documentary attestation of the settlement dates back to 1280 under the name of Castrum Sex or “six-sided camp”, due to the fort’s shape of an irregular hexagon.
Sighisoara Medieval Festival took place on the last weekend of July, between 28 -30th of July 2017 and is the oldest event of its kind in Romania, first manifestation starting back to 1992. Each year the medieval festival has a different theme, and this year’s theme was “The mystery of the secret courier“, based on a less known story related to the history of Sighisoara, the story of Angelina’s saving the city. Angelina of Sighisoara not Angelina Jolie, a woman as beautiful as the actress who saved the old fortress from the invasion of the Turkish armies, with her incredible magical powers.
The story of Angelina
The story goes that Sighisoara was surrounded by Turkish armies, who tried to occupy it by installing their tents around the Citadel, demanding a great deal of money to depress it. The City Council is appealing to beautiful Angelina, which, according to legend, possess magical powers. During the negotiations she has with the head of the Turkish army she convinces him to give up the idea of conquering the fortress and manages to spare it without paying that huge tribute, so the city is saved.
However, my bet is that her “magical power” was her beautiful appearance since Turks men were very sensitive to the beauty of Romanian girls, otherwise, they wouldn’t have invaded for hundreds of years the land of Wallachia and Transylvania in order to kidnap the beautiful Romanian girls and to take them to their Turkish harem. I’ve learned at my history classes while in school that two things the Turks armies were after in the old Romanian territories: gold and girls.
First Day of the Medieval Festival – Friday, July 28
The festival started officially at 5 p.m. with an opening parade downtown of the medieval citadel, in The Citadel Square. Then, for about an hour a presentation of medieval weapons by Terra Medies Palladins group followed up, with short moments of combat using every weapon from the arsenal or a combination of weapons. Medieval music concerts, folk concerts and interactive moments with the public have filled the rest of the evening’s program.
There was a different program for children in the Ducks Square with medieval games championships and medieval jousting by Wild Carpathia team and some handmade creations, theater, pantomime and magic workshops too. The program for children was really great and they have so much fun, it was a pleasure to watch their joy and excitement.
At the Music School Square a medieval dance workshop was offered by The Order of medias Knights for those interested, and in the Museum Square – a street theater “Don’t challenge love” by Hocus Pocus crew. There were also some manifestations in the Monastery Church area (artisans workshops, pottery and craft workshops and painting on a base relief) at The Citadel Alley, at the Sander Hall, plus a contemporary Art Gallery on the theme of the secret courier at the Blacksmiths Tower.
All these places are actually pretty close to each other, although you must walk by some narrow and quite secret streets to reach them. You definitely could not participate on all of these activities and workshops because they happened in the same interval of time, so you had to choose between them if were there.
Second Day of Sighisoara Medieval Festival – Saturday, July 29
The festival program started at 10 a.m. in all of the places, but my favorite one was The Citadel Square, of course. It was the central place of the festival and I just love to be in the middle of “action”. I watched fascinated the medieval weapons and outfits presentations and demonstrative combats with every weapon and combination of weapons, thinking how horrible must have been to be a soldier that time. I’ve seen short and long swords, lances, many halberds, gruesome daggers and maces, and the famous thrusting spears with sharpened heads – some of them dating back to 9th-13th century. Do you imagine how awfully painful must have been to be killed by one of those primitive weapons? I guess men of that time were much more courageous than they are today.
But what I was most upset about was the fact the women, children and old people who could not defend themselves were killed in the same way for centuries during the invasion of Turkish Muslims, they made no difference between soldiers and civilians.
Weapons presentations and combats demonstrations were followed by medieval dances performed by the Terra Medies Paladins.
Climbing The Covered Staircase
In the afternoon I’ve climbed the famous Covered Staircase (or the Pupils Staircase) which is located just around the corner when turning left from The Citadel Square. The Covered Staircase was built in 1642 totally of wood and in its initial form, it would have had 300 steps covered with shingles. Initially was built and covered to protect the children while climbing to go to the Hill School, hence the name of The Pupils Staircase. It connects the lower town with the top of the hill where you can visit the Church on the Hill and the beside Cemetery.
The structure of the stairs underwent some changes in 1842 when it was built a new foundation of masonry and the number of steps was reduced to 178. However, its aspect is to a large extent the original aspect of traditional Saxon architecture with its rural influences back to the 17th century.
It was quite tiring to climb all those stairs and I must confess I’ve stopped several times to take my breath and take photos of those behind me. After all I wasn’t in a hurry, however, I felt the lack of regular exercising. Some things need to change in my daily program when back home, definitely.
Reaching the top, I encountered a spectacular view which was worth all that effort. And all these free, there is no fee to climb the Covered Staircase and you can do that whenever you want. For me, it was enough once.
Visiting Vlad Dracula’s Yellow House
All the historians agree that Vlad The Impaler was born in Sighisoara in 1431, a small but strategic town in the historic region of Transylvania. Situated very close to the Citadin Square, you can see the house where Vlad Dracula was born and lived his first four years (1431-1435). The house is a little inclined like the Pisa tower. At first, I thought the house was several hundred years old and that’s why is so inclined (I was quite reluctant to enter it) but later I’ve seen a few other buildings in the area inclined – perhaps was a trend back then in construction style?
Dracula’s room is located on the second floor of the old yellow house and you have to pay a very small fee of 5 Lei (the equivalent of 1.29 US Dollar) to see it.
The room was dark and red colored, with a coffin and a man supposedly Dracula himself – sitting in it. At his feet, there were some candles and while you take a look at them, suddenly “Dracula” wakes up and scares you to death. He really scared me although I knew was going to happen that. The atmosphere was so mysterious, a dark red room with a coffin and a ‘dead” man in it that no matter how prepared you are for mysterious things to happen, you still end up scared. Next to this room is another one with an old table and chairs, perhaps the dining room of the little prince.
(to be continued)